(CNN)The impact of Covid-19 in Latin America is igniting protests in several countries, as the economic fallout from the pandemic aggravates existing social tensions from the streets of Buenos Aires and Panama City to remote parts of Brazil and Bolivia.
Protests across Latin America reflect a toxic cocktail of pandemic and recession
On Monday, at least 25,000 people marched through the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, protesting the government's continued lockdown, a deepening economic crisis and the government's plans for judicial reform. Protests were also held in the cities of Cordoba, Mar del Plata and Rosario.
A similar protest took place in the capital last month, when thousands defied quarantine restrictions to demonstrate against corruption and the restrictions on businesses due to the lockdown.
Argentina has seen more than 310,000 Covid-19 cases, with a sharp spike in infections over the last month. Quarantine measures have been extended to the end of the month, and even tightened in some areas.
Argentines have also been angered by the release from jail of associates of former President Cristina Kirchner, such as former vice president Amado Boudou, convicted of corruption, who was granted house arrest because of the pandemic.
Argentina's experience echoes across the region, where discontent across a range of issues has coalesced with the pandemic and its economic impact. Jimena Blanco, research director and head of Americas for the political analytics firm Verisk Maplecroft, says, "A significant part of the population in Argentina is saying 'We've been at home for five months; we need to start living again.'"
Bolivia provides another instance of politics melding with the Covid-19 crisis. Supporters of former President Evo Morales blocked roads across the country for weeks as the interim government twice postponed elections due to the spread of coronavirus cases. For now there appears to be a truce; two labor unions agreed to lift roadblocks last week after President Jeanine Añez signed a law promising elections on October 18.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro's dismissive attitude toward Covid-19 has sharpened an already polarized environment. A survey by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) showed that protests were up by one third in the first three months of the pandemic compared to the preceding quarter.
Demonstrations have ebbed in recent weeks, but could reignite with critical decisions on extending income support are due in the coming weeks.
On Wednesday, Bolsonaro said the monthly emergency stipend would have to be cut. "This is not the people's money, this is indebtedness, and if the country becomes over-indebted, it ends up losing its credibility," Bolsonaro said.
Much of the unrest across the region so far has been driven by economic hardship. In Chile, lockdown protests such as the clanging of pots and pans -- known as cacerolazo -- escalated to street demonstrations in defiance of quarantine in mid-July. There were multiple grieva